TAE Aerospace announced today it has successfully achieved all Initial Depot Capability (IDC) requirements for the repair and overhaul of the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, which powers all three variants of the 5th Generation F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft. With this achievement, TAE Aerospace’s F135 Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul & Upgrade (MRO&U) facility, or depot, in Australia becomes the first fully operational F135 engine depot in the Asia-Pacific region, supporting F-35 operators from Australia, South Korea, Japan and U.S. forces in the region.
The four-stage process to achieve IDC began with the construction of TAE Aerospace’s new MRO&U facility in Ipswich, Queensland. This was followed by the achievement of IDC for the fan module in 2020, and then the power module in 2021. The final element for meeting all IDC requirements was the qualification of the upgraded F135 Engine Test Cell facility located at Queensland’s Amberley Air Force Base, which occurred earlier this year.
“The investment made by the Commonwealth of Australia and TAE Aerospace over the past four years will result in long-term benefits for both Australia, with an important sovereign industrial capability now available in country, as well as at the local level; through the creation of many jobs over the coming years,” said TAE Aerospace’s CEO, Andrew Sanderson.
Achieving F135 engine IDC means TAE Aerospace is now authorized to conduct the full MRO&U process from engine teardown, rebuild and testing before returning the completed modules or engines to F-35 operators through the program’s Global Support Solution.
We congratulate the entire TAE Aerospace team on achieving all IDC requirements for the F135 engine,” said Andre McMillian, vice president, Sustainment Operations for Pratt & Whitney Military Engines. “With this sustainment milestone, Australia joins the global F135 engine depot network, and will play a critical role in the support of the F-35 global fleet. Pratt & Whitney extends a heartfelt thanks to TAE and the Australian DOD for their investment of talented personnel and capital to fill this significant program need.”
“Strong partnerships between the Commonwealth, global OEMs, and Australian industry are fundamental to supporting airpower capability in our region,” added Mr. Sanderson. “Close collaboration has enabled us to stand up this important capability, underpinning Australia’s goal to achieve a sovereign MRO&U capability for the F135 engine.”
The 5th Generation F135 is the most advanced and most powerful fighter engine in the world, featuring a host of performance attributes that deliver a step change in capability over 4th Generation engines. This includes 40,000+ pounds of thrust; a 50 percent increase in thermal management capacity enabling the full spectrum of F-35 weapons and sensor capabilities; a precise and responsive integrated engine control system allowing the pilot to focus squarely on the mission; and an unmatched low observable signature enabling the F-35 to conduct operations in modern Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2AD) environments.
Additionally, the F135 is the most dependable fighter engine Pratt & Whitney has ever built in its 97-year history. With its advanced damage tolerant design and fully integrated prognostic health monitoring, the current F135 production configuration far exceeds the specification for Mean Flight Hours Between Engine Removals (MFHBR), and the global fleet is averaging mission capability rates above 90%.